Unveiling our first 68-team bracket of the season

Monday January 6th, 2014

C.J. Fair played 40 minutes and scored 15 points in Syracuse's close win against Miami on Saturday.
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

With the holidays behind us and the new year off to a roaring start, it's time for our first full Bracket Watch of the 2013-14 season. We'll continue to provide extended thoughts on the top four teams in each region, but we'll now project the entire 68-team field every Monday. Most of the shuffling this week occurred in the 4-6-seed range, as the country's elite teams mostly took care of business in their first weeks of conference play. That same range features a handful of teams -- Oklahoma State, Louisville, Duke and Kansas -- that continue to harbor real national championship aspirations this season. While we've seen teams make runs from a mid-seed line to the Final Four, all four could do themselves serious favors by getting back on track in their respective conferences.

The Top Four Seeds

West Region

1. Arizona (15-0, Last Week: West 1) -- The Wildcats kicked off conference play by holding Washington State to 25 points on 20 percent shooting on Thursday. They get their first true Pac-12 test at UCLA this week.

2. Florida (11-2, LW: East 3) -- The Gators start their SEC slate this week with games against South Carolina and Arkansas.

3. Wichita State (15-0, LW: W4) -- Fred VanVleet scored 39 points, knocking down 13 of his 21 field goal attempts in wins over Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa last week.

4. Oklahoma State (12-2, LW: South 2) -- OSU allowed 74 points, more than 10 points above its season average, in a loss to Kansas State, its first game after losing starting center Michael Cobbins for the year to a torn ACL.

East Region

1. Syracuse (14-0, LW: E1) -- C.J. Fair bailed out the Orange in its ugly 49-44 win over Miami, scoring 15 points, including the go-ahead basket with just less than five minutes left in the game.

2. Wisconsin (15-0, LW: E2) -- Ben Brust scored 19 points in the second half, helping Wisconsin rally from an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Iowa on Sunday night.

3. Colorado (13-2, LW: On the cusp) -- Askia Booker scored a season-high 27 points in Colorado's 100-91 win over Oregon on Sunday. The Buffaloes' only losses are to Baylor and Oklahoma State.

4. Louisville (13-2, LW: On the cusp) -- After the university dismissed Chane Behanan for violating its policy, the Cardinals dominated Central Florida and Rutgers. Russ Smith was particularly impressive against UCF, scoring 24 points while shooting 6-of-10 from behind the arc.

Midwest Region

1. Ohio State (15-0, LW: Midwest 1) -- The Buckeyes picked up easy victories over Purdue and Nebraska last week, but that was just an appetizer for Tuesday's main course with Michigan State.

2. Baylor (12-1, LW: W2) -- Baylor begins conference play on Tuesday by traveling to Ames to take on Iowa State.

3. Kentucky (10-3, LW: MW3) -- The Wildcats won't get another real challenge until Feb. 1 when they play Missouri on the road.

4. Oregon (13-1, LW: S4) -- The Ducks gave up 100 points in a loss to Colorado last week, the second time this year they've allowed an opponent to hit the century mark.

South Region

1. Michigan State (13-1, LW: S1) -- Gary Harris scored a season-high 26 points in a win over Indiana last week. He has double-digit points in every game this season, the sort of punch the Spartans will need against Ohio State on Tuesday.

2. Villanova (13-1, LW: MW2) -- The Wildcats bounced back from their first loss of the season with wins over Butler and Providence. JayVaughn Pinkston combined for 41 points in the victories.

3. Iowa State (13-0, LW: MW4) -- The Cyclones remained unbeaten with wins against Northern Illinois and Texas Tech last week. A huge test with Baylor looms on Tuesday.

4. San Diego State (12-1, LW: Not ranked) -- Steve Fisher's bunch held Kansas to less than 30 percent from the floor in its biggest win of the season on Sunday. The Aztecs return to Mountain West play with games against Boise State and Air Force this week.

Last Four In

Tennessee -- Wins over Xavier and Virginia are enough to get the Volunteers into the dance at this stage of the season.

Boise State -- The Broncos nearly earned a huge victory over Iowa State on Christmas Day, but they'll get another chance at a signature win against San Diego State this week.

Oklahoma -- The Sooners were bumped to the play-in round after Xavier picked up wins against St. John's and Butler last week.

California -- This spot belonged to Stanford until the Golden Bears went into Palo Alto and knocked off the Cardinal last week.

First Four Out

Virginia -- The Cavaliers edged closer to inclusion with a win over Florida State, but they still have work to do to get in the field.

George Washington -- Maurice Creek is averaging 16 points for a surprising Colonial squad.

Stanford -- The Cardinal made just four of 14 attempts from three-point land in its loss to Cal last week. Sunday's game at Oregon presents a golden opportunity.

Maryland -- The Terrapins have five losses and have just one win against a team ranked in the top 100 at KenPom.com.

SI.com's 2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket



1. Arizona
16. Jacksonville State/Texas Southern
1. Syracuse
16. Florida Gulf Coast/Norfolk State
8. Harvard
9. Virginia Commonwealth
8. New Mexico
9. Michigan
4. Oklahoma State
13. Manhattan
4. Louisville
13. Drexel
5. Memphis
12. Arkansas
5. Kansas
12. New Mexico State
3. Wichita State
14. UW-Green Bay
3. Colorado
14. Stephen F. Austin
6. Missouri
11. Toledo
6. Iowa
11. Xavier/Boise State
7. Connecticut
10. Georgetown
7. Gonzaga
10. Texas
2. Florida
15. Elon
2. Wisconsin
15. Bryant



1. Ohio State
16. Charleston Southern
1. Michigan State
16. Northern Colorado
8. Pitt
9. Saint Mary's
8. Florida State
9. Cincinnati
4. Oregon
13. Indiana State
4. San Diego State
13. North Dakota State
5. North Carolina
12. Tennessee
5. Duke
12. Oklahoma/California
3. Kentucky
14. Louisiana Tech
3. Iowa State
14. Louisiana-Lafayette
6. Creighton
11. UC Santa Barbara
6. Massachusetts
11. Minnesota
10. Saint Louis
7. Illinois
10. LSU
2. Baylor
15. Boston
2. Villanova
15. Stony Brook

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.